Tag Archives: pets

Night of the living pets

Our pet bearded dragon, Artemis













Every night before I go to bed, I check on all of our animals and make sure they have everything they need before I turn in.  Clean litter, food, water, that kind of stuff.

I went to turn off the light on the bearded dragon’s tank and saw her in her hiding spot.

She didn’t look good.  Not like Lindsay Lohan not good or Nick Nolte not good.  But more like Jim Morrison not good.  Which is really code for d-e-a-d.

Oh, God.

My immediate thought was that I’d need to dispose of her lizard carcass immediately.  Like now.  Definitely before the kids get up the next morning and have to see their beloved pet hard and stiff and dead.

The very thought of picking up a dead lizard using a plastic shopping bag started to gross me out.  I know, so very un-butch.  Like lip gloss and glitter.

I slid off the top of the cage and lifted up the hollowed out log under which the dragon was resting.

Her eyes opened slightly.  This is how I knew she wasn’t dead.

I cleaned out the tank and put in some fresh kale and went upstairs to give W a report.

“The dragon doesn’t look very good,” I said.

W raised an eyebrow.  Then told me not to worry so much.

Last year, when the weather started getting colder and the days shorter, the dragon went into some kind of state of hibernation.  She stopped eating and just kind of laid around.  It was like me when I’m depressed, only change “stopped eating” to “more, please.”

W thought the dragon was going through something like that again.

“I’m not worried at all,” she said confidently.

I was still worrying.  I could medal in worrying in Rio in 2016.  I’m that good.  I am the Michael Phelps of hand wringing.

“Do you want to know what I saw?” I asked.


“Well, she looks like she has dark circles under her eyes.”

Honestly, that bearded dragon looked like she had been up the previous night snorting lines of cocaine and drinking bottles of Cristal like some scaly hip-hop artist with a brand new record deal.

W laughed.

“And, imagine if you had a bicycle pump and stuck it in her.  But then instead of pumping air in, you sucked it out.  That’s how she looks.  Flat.”

W laughed again.

For some reason, she found my medical in-take humorous.  Nurses.

Personally, I don’t see what’s so funny about a strung-out, flat bearded dragon.

Anyway, I felt better when W reminded me of the hibernation thing.  And, I always feel better when W’s not as worried and freaked out like me.  Which is almost always.  It’s calming.

After we had settled into bed and watched some TV, I felt compelled to share another observation.

“I don’t think the cat looks very good.”

Why our cats are more like hobos than house pets

I have come to the realization that our three cats are not really sweet, docile domesticated housecats.  Sure, at first glance, they give the appearance of normal cats.

Moon likes to lie on the bed with the wife and I and have his belly rubbed.

And, Magic is a kitten at heart.  A “perma-kitten,” the vet calls her.  She loves to play with string, paper balls and just about anything else that happens to dart in front of her eyes.

Sigyn is a bit more offbeat.  But if she hears the rustle of a treat bag, she’ll come running.

Normal, right?  Just like your cats, you say?

Or are they?

Yesterday, Moon jumped up on my lap.  Oh, how sweet turned into revulsion and horror as I felt something wet and smelled something bad.  Really bad.  He had just used the litter box and had apparently stepped in cat poop somewhere along the way.  I now had tiny poop pawprints on the front of my shirt.

He was like some kind of unkempt drifter with really bad toileting habits.

Disgusted, I tossed him off of me and went upstairs to grab a clean shirt.

When I came downstairs, I spotted Magic holed up in the cardboard box that I had used to haul home groceries from BJs.  Now, Magic has never been one to pass up a perfectly good cardboard box, but she was hunkered down and ready to spend the night.

She was all ghetto, squatting at the corner of desk and bookshelf.  It was a mini tent city for one.

Magic in tent city

At some point Moon came around to check out Magic’s new cardboard digs and to stir up trouble.  Because Magic had a cardboard box and he didn’t.  Bitch.

Magic laid claim to her new impromptu residence by stretching out the length of the box in an effort to ward off Moon and other potential squatters.  Go find your own corner, old man.

Moon looks for a place to squat

Moon backed off and disappeared.  No doubt to scout for his own box or maybe an abandoned duct or a vacant hallway that he could call home for the night.

Sigyn had already taken up residence under a broken chair.  She was curled up on a single sheet of newspaper.

Sigyn sleeps on a newspaper bed

The whole thing was like a scene from Cats, without the music, of course.

And, that’s when it hit me.  Our cats are more like squatters than house pets.

Curling up in boxes and under chairs.  Laying in windowsills and laundry baskets.  Tucking themselves away under beds and in dresser drawers.

Hobo cats.  Homeless cats.  Vagrant cats.  Seeking refuge, shelter, safety.  Sister, can you spare a dime?

Too good to beg.  Beg?  Oh, please.  But stealing whenever they can.  Knocking over trashcans in search of chicken bones and tuna fish cans.  Swiping a piece of meat from one plate and a bit of cheese from another.  Take a little bit here and a little bit there, so no one notices, they strategize.

Peeing in corners and on furniture.  Wherever they fucking please.  Because they’re cats and they can.  To hell with convention and litter boxes, they say.

Cat beds?  Those are for pussies, they say.

Breaking blinds and shredding furniture.  Carving their initials into the wooden banister with their talons.  Magic wuz here.  We didn’t pay for the shit, go to hell, they say.

Fighting amongst themselves.  Shrieking and hissing and clawing and clubbing each other with their raised fists.  I will cut you, they whisper back and forth.  Tiny, furry gangsters.

They have no respect for authority.  “No, no,” I tell them in a firm voice.

They turn their backs and walk away.  Looking for a free meal or a fight or a dry bed.  Whichever.  It doesn’t matter.

I hope there’s no trouble tonight in Kitty Tent City.